Habitat and Ecology
Size at birth is from 27 to 30 cm TL. Females attain maturity at 223 to 231 cm TL (Castro 2000b) or 230 to 240 cm TL (Compagno 2001) and males mature at 210 cm TL (Compagno 2001) or 214 cm TL (Castro 2000b). Maximum cited total lengths exceeding 450 cm TL are possibly greatly exaggerated (Castro 2000b). The largest reliably reported specimen was 308 cm TL (Compagno 2001).
Reproduction is aplacental viviparous, the retained eggs possessing a large amount of yolk (Compagno 2001). Number of intrauterine eggs 20 to 30, gestation period from five to six months, and reproduction occurs every other year (Compagno 2001). Brood sizes up to 50 young were reported by Castro (2000b), with a mean number of 34. Age at maturity estimated to be 10 to 15 years (males) and 15 to 20 years (females) (Carrier 1991, Carrier and Luer 1999, Compagno 2001).
Diet studies based on examination of stomach contents indicate small teleosts, cephalopods, gastropods, bivalves, sea urchins and crustaceans as the main prey items. Pieces of coral debris and algae occasionally occur in the stomachs (Castro 2000b, Compagno 2001). Such data indicate that the nurse shark is an opportunistic benthic predator.
Life history parameters
Age at maturity: Female: 15 to 20 years; Male: 10 to 15 years.
Size at maturity (total length): Female: 223 to 231 cm TL or 230 to 240 cm TL; Male: 210 to 214 cm TL.
Longevity (years): Unknown.
Maximum size (total length): 450 cm TL? Reliably 308 cm TL.
Size at birth: 27 to 30 cm TL.
Average reproductive age (years): Unknown.
Gestation time: 5 to 6 months.
Reproductive periodicity: Biennial.
Average annual fecundity or litter size: Average: 34 pups/litter.
Annual rate of population increase: Unknown.
Natural mortality: Unknown.
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